The Imbibe Debate: Gin

On reading Imbibe I came across the Gin debate, where the question was asked “Gin has seen plenty of innovation of late . . . but is the drink in danger of losing it’s personality in the process?”

On one side you have Desmond Payne, current master distiller at Beefeater (and Plymouth previously). 

There’s a temptation to carve out a niche by being totally different, but the danger is that what you’re making simply stops being gin. What you need to be , is very good. 

If I’m going to use the word ‘gin’ then it to be gin, and it ought to be juniper. 

The other is Gerry Calabrese, of Hoxton Gin infamy. 

The category needs innovation. Like all things, it needs to modernise or it’ll stop being popular. 

As long as a spirit has  a core base of juniper in the mix – 50% or more – and it retains some character of juniper on the nose and palate, then it’s a gin in my view. 

The full article is at Imbibe – The Gin Debate 

What are your thoughts on the new styles of gin? Is Hoxton gin truly a gin?


  1. I think that Hoxton is particularly high-profile, non-traditional style of gin, but products that move away from Traditional Gin styles have been around for a while; Jospehine is a good example and there are others.
    I’d be intrigued if some-one made a more bitter than usual gin rather than one which is sweet and more floral (this probably wouldn’t bring any new converts to the gin table though).
    I think there is room for both and most folks will vote with their feet (or wallets).

    One of the big criticisms I have heard of Hoxton is that the smell is so strong, if this was dialed down a bit I think it would be better. I had an interesting Negroni with Hoxton last night, it had an interesting creamy coconut in the middle but in general the red vermouth and Campari restrained the bitter notes a little with.

    I’d have more of an issue with more contemporary and less traditional gins managing to get London Dry Gin status. To my mind if it’s London Dry you should know what you are getting; that is, in a word, Juniper.

  2. jellydonut says:

    I think what they need is a new name. Square One calls theirs ‘botanical vodka’. I mean, even if some of these products aren’t gins, they aren’t ‘flavored vodkas’ either. They’re infused/macerated with botanicals and then redistilled.. Just not with (a lot of) juniper.

    I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of ideas. Infused spirits?

  3. Gin Journey says:

    I am a bit split over this.

    On one hand, if I am buying gin, I want to have a rough idea about what to expect. Having a juniper-led spirit it one of the basic requirements; there needs to be some base-level of expectation there. The “London Dry” classification helps to guarantee that, but that classification needs protecting and policing in order to maintain its credibility.

    On the other hand, I got into gin through the lighter varieties (Bombay Sapphire to start with and then Hendrick’s) and without these departures from the traditional styles, I may not have taken that leap.

    To my mind, the fact that this debate is even happening, validates Hoxton’s existence. Normality is defined by the abnormal and we need the tail-ends of the bell-curve to help define what should be in the middle. Just like politics needs the loony-left and the fascist-right to help those in the middle maintain perspective, maybe gin needs brands to wanders into the left-field once in a while, to remind us what gin is and should be. It gives us concrete examples to hold up and say “This is not right!”.

    There is a balance to be struck here; tradition needs protecting, but we also need to embrace experimentation to avoid stagnation. Also, vodka-gins have helped vodka-drinkers transition into gin; maybe Hoxton will help Malibu drinkers make that leap – Hoxton & Coke anyone?

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